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NHL abandons plan to host games at non-league arenas

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

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The NHL is abandoning the idea of resuming its 2019-20 season using non-league arenas due to a lack of accommodations and difficulty televising games at these facilities, commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet's Ron MacLean on Wednesday.

"I know there's been a lot of rumors about this, we can't play in a small college rink in the middle of a smaller community because if we're going to be centralized, we need the back of the house that NHL arenas provide," Bettman said.

"Whether it's multiple locker rooms, whether it's the technology, the procedures, the video replay, the broadcasting facilities; those are the things that are in place at NHL arenas and that's what we're going to ultimately need if we're going to come back in a centralized basis and play multiple games a day."

The league is shifting its focus toward playing games at up to four regular NHL cities where the coronavirus outbreak is contained and less stringent restrictions would allow games to be played.

Bettman says that although divisional games will be centralized in one location, contests won't necessarily be hosted in a city within the respective divisions.

The home rinks of the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, and Minnesota Wild are currently the front-runners, according to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski.

Three cities contacted the league after the NHL went on pause March 12: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Manchester, New Hampshire.

Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was among the players to discuss potentially playing neutral-site games, saying he'd play anywhere if it brought back the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup.

The NHL pushed its self-quarantine period to April 30 last week, and several options to ensure a fair format for all teams and safety for players are being considered as the pandemic persists across North America.

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